top of page

Roots of GBV: Exploring Normalized Pedophilia in the Caribbean

By Judy Liverpool

With the 16 Days of Activism in full swing, focusing on Gender-Based Violence, I have been thinking of the ways in which Caribbean societies have somewhat normalized pedophillia and how it connects to Gender-Based Violence. I am sure that many in the Caribbean have seen or heard of young teenage girls having a “boyfriend” who was an adult oftentimes in their 20’s to 40’s even. Although, this is only one of the ways that pedophilia is normalized, many consider this a “normal” occurrence and turn a blind eye to it whereas some may even victim blame or insult the child (young teen) for being exploited by an adult. I myself have seen this often enough, especially during my time in late primary and secondary educational institutions. 

So, what do many of the instances of normalized pedophilia have in common?

The instances of normalized pedophillia are: lack of comprehensie sex education where a child may be able to effectively communicate what may be happening to them as well as them possibly being ignored by trusted adults, pedophiles targeting vulnerable mothers/children, and the way that Caribbean societies may promote or condition children to pedophillia.

When children are being abused in any way there will always be signs of the abuse whether it’s physically or behaviorally. Sexual abuse of chilren is often comitted by an adult that they know such as a family member or friend. This may also lead to the child’s distrust of those that willingly ignore their cries for help when they reach out. Furthermore, the child may deem it unnecessary to try with another seemingly trusted adult due to the negative  or lack reaction of the adult that did not heed their cries for help. Children in these situations may continue to be preyed upon by other adults due to their lack of vocabulary to effectively communicate what is happening to them. Although boy and girl can be targets, as we may know  girls are often at a heightened risk in many cases of sexual violence.

As Unicef Jamaica states, “adolescent and young women are disproportionately affected by sexual violence, with 83% of reported rapes to the Jamaica Constabulary Force in 2015 being of girls…The majority of rape victims are between 10-17 years old.” Due to the existence of Gender-Based Violence, many girls are vulnerable to the acts of pedophillia as some forms of violence being a common part of growing up can make child victims less likely to report or think of themselves as in need of help (Unicef Jamaica 2019). 

When girls become women in a society that has normalized violence, some may continue to accept violence in their later relationships.

In a study conducted by Adele D. Jones titled ‘Child Sexual Abuse as Lifespan Trauma Within the Context of Intimate Partner Violence: Experiences of Caribbean Women’, the results state that after intensive interviews with 35 women, 21 women reported that they had been subject to sexual violence and of the 21 women, 19 of them reported that they had experienced sexual violence as a child. This demonstrates the connection between GBV and normalized pedophillia. Because of the sexual violence experienced in their chilhood their perception of violence became desentisized to it. 

The 19 women who experienced child sexual abuse as well as sexual abuse as an adult all state that they thought it was a normal occfurence due to not being believed when they reported to an adult, being blamed for their abuse or their abuse being ignored or accepted by their family member because they lived in households where the patriarchal ideals were prevalent along their community’s tolerance for sexual violence against girls and women. What the women have in common is that they were all vulnerable as children due to their individual familial circumstances and that as women the cycle of sexual abuse continued in their various adult relationships.

Some Caribbean societies may promote pedophilla in online spaces seemingly unknowingly via pornographic videos involing minors that are often shared not only in Caribbean online spaces but also worldwide. These videos show up on adult video websites and some social media platforms. If one happens to come across any such videos I would advise that you stop watching immediately after noting that a minor and proceed to report the video along with the person who posted it.

Although a few Caribbean countries do not have sufficient laws that protect against child pornography according to The International Centre for missing and exploited children, the Caribbean countries the have sufficient laws according to at least 4 of their recommended criteria are: Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. In these counties creating, distributing and possessing any form of child pornography is punishible by law.

Young girls between the ages of 11-15 in the caribbean have reported they they were exposed to sexual abuse or had sexual experience according to the study, “Child Sexual Abuse as Lifespan Trauma Within the Context of Intimate Partner Violence: Experiences of Caribbean Women.” This study gives evidence that children are conditioned to to become victims of pedophiles with a large amount being girls, as “early sexual activity is highly correlated with sexual abuse and coercion, both as a causal link and also in increasing vulnerability to further victimisation (Jones 2021).”

There is a lot of anecdotal and concrete evidence that implies that Gender-based violence is deeply rooted in normalized pedophillia. The evidence both anecdotal and concrete, suggests that those with authority have historically dismissed, demonized or villainized the victims of pedohillia and geder-based violence. These actions are promoted to the extent of normalized sayings such as “that is man, woman business” which have become synonymous with reports of victims to some institutions such as family, religious leaders, and in many cases the police, being invalidated due to many forms of victim blaming. The research alongside the anecdotal evidence in this blog demonstrates the various ways in which Caribbean societies have normalized pedohillia and how it is rooted in Gender based violence. I hope that readers take with them the importance of believing children and women when reports are made against abusers in their lives. Believing victims can prevent a cycle of sexual abuse in adulthood.

References

Rock, Letnie  F. Research on Child Sexual Abuse: Caribbean and International Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan, a Division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2013, file:///C:/Users/momar/Desktop/DND/9781137020055_9.pdf. 

“Despite Increase in Global Child Protection Laws Many Countries Still Do Not Consider Child Pornography a Crime.” International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, 24 Feb. 2017, https://www.icmec.org/press/despite-increase-in-global-child-protection-laws-many-countries-still-do-not-consider-child-pornography-a-crime/. 

“Despite Increase in Global Child Protection Laws Many Countries Still Do Not Consider Child Pornography a Crime.” International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, 24 Feb. 2017, https://www.icmec.org/press/despite-increase-in-global-child-protection-laws-many-countries-still-do-not-consider-child-pornography-a-crime/. 

Jones, Adele D. “Child Sexual Abuse as Lifespan Trauma within the Context of Intimate Partner Violence: Experiences of Caribbean Women.” Frontiers, Frontiers, 1 Jan. 1AD, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsoc.2021.623661/full. 

Judy Liverpool is a language and literature graduate who teaches english as a second language and is deeply passionate about feminist issues.

11 views

Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page